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Houston newspaper pulls endorsement over candidate’s anti-gay flyer

Monday, November 7, 2011
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HOUSTON — In a strongly worded editorial, the Houston Chronicle on Sunday retracted its endorsement of a school board candidate after his campaign released an anti-gay flyer directed at his opponent, calling it “obvious gay bashing.”

Manuel Rodriguez Jr.

The Chronicle had endorsed Manuel Rodriguez Jr. for another term on the board of the Houston Independent School District but decided to reconsider its position when the candidate’s campaign released a flyer urging recipients not just to vote for Rodriguez, but to vote against his opponent, Ramiro Fonseca, because he has been endorsed by the Houston GLBT Caucus.

The flyer stated, “Ramiro Fonseca has spent years advocating for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender rights … not kids,” and ends with a pair of bullet points noting that “Fonseca is 54 years old with no children and has a male partner.”

“That’s obvious gay-bashing, of the kind that HISD rightly prohibits on the playground. It has no place on HISD’s board,” the Chronicle wrote.

Advocating for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights is advocating for kids. GLBT kids are among those who most need adult protection and support.

As Noel Freeman, president of the Houston GLBT Caucus notes, “GLBT youth are 12 times more likely to be bullied in schools, five times more likely to commit suicide and eight times more likely to be homeless. It is imperative that we provide a safe, welcoming environment in our schools.”

With his hateful flier, Rodriguez perpetuates the kind of stereotypes that put our kids in danger. And he implies that all right-thinking people agree with him – an insult to his constituents, and precisely the kind of blithe, old-school homophobia that makes school hallways so treacherous.

Members of the school board are supposed to be role models, not bullies. They’re supposed to support civil rights, not fight against them. They’re supposed to fight hate speech, not commit it.

It’s important to stand up to bullying, intolerant behavior, whether on the playground or at the ballot box.

The campaign for Rodriquez has not responded to e-mail inquiries by LGBTQ Nation for their comment on the Chronicle’s editorial.

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